Eight deadly pitches

India v South Africa, Test, Kanpur, 2007-08

Rating: Poor
Reason: Too dry and too much turn and variable bounce
Match referee: Roshan Mahanama

What happened: Trailing 1-0 after being bowled out for 76 on a moist pitch in Ahmedabad, India defeated South Africa in three days to level the series. South Africa were bowled out for 121 in the second innings. “My considered view is that the pitch was poor as it was too dry and had considerable turn and variable bounce from the first day… The pitch was not up to Test match standards,” said Mahanama in his report.

“It was a poor cricket wicket, though I can understand the reason behind it,” South Africa’s then coach Micky Arthur said. “But the practice facilities and the accommodation left a lot to be desired for an international venue.”

The fallout: Kanpur got away with an official warning because it had no previous record of producing a substandard pitch

India v Sri Lanka, ODI, Delhi, 2009-10

Rating: Unfit
Reason: Random, dangerous and uneven bounce
Match referee: Alan Hurst

What happened: India had already won the five-match ODI series when they came to Delhi for the last match, but only 23.3 overs were bowled before it was decided the pitch offered “extremely variable bounce and was too dangerous for further play”. The bounce varied from shin to shoulder height from similar areas.

The fallout: Feroz Shah Kotla was banned from hosting international cricket for a year, but that was actually a reprieve: had the ICC imposed the maximum penalty of two years, Delhi would have lost out on 2011 World Cup matches.

The BCCI sacked its grounds and pitches committee, headed then by Daljit Singh, who duly came back and still heads the committee.

West Indies v South Africa, Test, St Kitts, 2010

Rating: Poor
Reason: Too flat
Match referee: Jeff Crowe

What happened: Nineteen wickets fell over five days as South Africa declared at 543 for 6, only for West Indies to overhaul the total. “This was not an exciting surface on which to play Test cricket,” South Africa captain Graeme Smith said. “We were all looking for a good, even battle between bat and ball. Hopefully, Barbados [next Test] will have a little bit more in the pitch, and it will be more of a fair challenge for both sides.”

The ICC noted that “it was remnants of a T20 pitch from a few weeks ago”.

The fallout: After due consideration, the rating was changed to “below average”. No penalty or fines. Since this match, St Kitts has hosted one further Test, which Pakistan won.

Sri Lanka v Australia, Test, Galle, 2011

Rating: Poor
Reason: Excessive spin early on and further deterioration
Match referee: Chris Broad

What happened: The Test ended on the fourth day with spinners taking 18 of the first 30 wickets to fall. In the last innings, fast bowler Ryan Harris took a five-for as Australia won by 125 runs. However, Australia captain Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke said day one felt like day five.

David Richardson, then the ICC’s general manager for cricket, said: “It was clear from the video footage of the match that the amount of turn, especially early in the match, was excessive and there were occasions (even on the first day) where the ball went through the surface of the pitch, bouncing unusually steeply from a good length.”

The fallout: The ground was officially warned, and ICC’s pitch consultant Andy Atkinson was to inspect the pitch before it hosted further international cricket. Galle remains one of Sri Lanka’s iconic Test venues. In 10 Tests since the warning, Galle has produced one draw but has generally remained bowler-friendly. Two of the 10 Tests have ended in three days, but they haven’t been considered to have produced “excessive turn” early in the match.

England v India, Test, Nottingham, 2014

Rating: Poor
Reason: Too flat
Match referee: David Boon

What happened: The first Test of the series brought a glut of runs, including 81 from No. 11 James Anderson and twin fifties for No. 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar. It was widely touted as a “chief executive’s pitch”, designed to ensure gate receipts over five days. Anderson the bowler was left frustrated that edges didn’t carry on the low and slow surface.

The fallout: An official warning and a requirement for the ground to furnish the ECB pitch consultant’s report before international cricket the next season. The only Test at Trent Bridge since then ended in three days with England bowling Australia out for 60 on a green seamer. That particular green pitch is often the counter given by irate players or coaches when the quality of a rank turner in Asia is questioned.

India v South Africa, Test, Nagpur, 2015-16

Rating: Poor
Reason: Excessive turn and uneven bounce throughout the match
Match referee: Jeff Crowe

What happened: After losing the ODI and T20I series to South Africa, in the words of India director Ravi Shastri, India took a chance and rolled out a turner in the first Test of the series in Mohali. That three-day finish paled in comparison with the third Test, in Nagpur, where the degree of turn, the bounce, and the pace off the pitch were all variable. South Africa were bowled out for 79 in their first innings; India’s 215 on day one was the highest score of the match.

The fallout: An official warning was given even though the BCCI questioned the rating. In the World T20 the same season, Nagpur produced mainly turning tracks with India bowled out for, well, 79 in the tournament opener against New Zealand.

India v Australia, Test, Pune, 2016-17

Rating: Poor
Reason: Loose soil on both ends and spinners’ deliveries exploding from the surface early in the match
Match referee: Chris Broad

What happened: After beating New Zealand, England and Bangladesh emphatically in a long home season, India went for a turner in Pune, against the wishes of the local curator. Australia enjoyed the advantage of batting first and then their spinners became unstoppable. India made only 212 runs – their lowest match aggregate at home after losing 20 wickets.

The fallout: The ground was given a warning but was allowed to continue hosting international cricket. In October 2017, it hosted a low-scoring ODI in which seamers took the majority of the wickets. The pitch curator, Pandurang Salgaoncar, was involved in a much more serious controversy this time, as a TV channel claimed to have caught him on tape trading information about the pitch.

Australia v England, MCG, 2017-18

Rating: Poor
Reason: Pitch neither favoured the batsmen too much nor gave the bowlers sufficient opportunity to take wickets
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle

What happened: The MCG’s curator had resigned and his replacement was yet to arrive, so the preparation of the pitch for the Boxing Day Test of the 2017-18 Ashes was left in the hands of the arena operations manager. He tried to play it safe by leaving little grass on the surface and repeatedly rolling it, but the result was a pitch that did not deteriorate over the five days. In addition, the bounce, according to Ranjan Madugalle, the match referee, was “medium, but slow in pace and got slower as the match progressed.” Only 24 wickets were taken during the Test, while the runs came at less than three an over. Steven Smith, the Australia captain, criticised the pitch for offering nothing to the bowlers. “We saw some reverse swing, but the ball just gets so soft so quickly because the surface is quite hard,” he said. “It gets soft, doesn’t carry through, and it’s really difficult to get people out. I just don’t think it’s good for anyone.”

The fallout: Cricket Australia has 14 days to reply to the ICC.

CRICINFO

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s